Benchtop Bench - got tired of back pain... Blog

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Blog entry by mafe posted 05-13-2014 07:50 PM 8188 reads 27 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Benchtop bench
got tired of back pain…

When I was sawing finger or dovetail joints on my traditional Scandinavian workbench, I always ended up standing in a bed over position sawing. Since I am retired du to a neck operation this is especially for me no good.
So when I realized I had to cut a handful for my daughters confirmation gift, I decided it was time to quit whining and do something about it.
Two ways ahead a moxon or a benchtop bench, the bench on bench would give me a general chance of a higher work surface, so that became my choice for now.
It can also be brought on location work and clamped to any table top.

This is how I usually stand.
Bad position, low control and need the work to go up high to not catch the bench and so it becomes less stabile.

I wanted it to be a use and trash version, no sensitivity after, a work top, not a art piece, so I went for thick plywood in a good quality.
First one for the work surface.

Then for the front piece and vise.

This is the plywood.

Then a couple of roof battens 38×57mm / 1,5×2,25inch are cut to length.

That’s the basic parts.

Since I did not have the right length to screw from underneath, I drilled top down at the back end.

Like this I can put wood plugs in later.

Glue and screw.

For the front end the front board are put straight up, glued and then nailed in place for now.
Counter sinking nails quite deep (app half a inch).

Then the bench is turned up side down, the batten glued on two surfaces and screws added from the back side, since the top is where sharp tools will work later.

Now time to play with a tool I bought time back and never got to use.
A wood threader.
The stocks I turned on my lathe some time back and kept on the shelf.
I wax and then go for it – it’s wonderfully easy in the beech wood.

Beautiful – yes?
I love it.

Then I test cut a thread in a piece of pine, just to see if it will work.
Again easy and a joy, cutting through the grain.

Test time.

Need a little grease and then runs as a dream.
Seems really strong.

Back to building.
Here the benchtop bench is put on the table and I cut a round hole in each end of the battens and cut down from the end to make it more elegant and so that a clamp don’ need to be as high to grab a table top.
Look at later pictures, forgot to take the after photo, sorry.

So wood in the holes I made later, now the glue is dry.

Now I can drill holes for the vice.
Starting with a pilot hole all the way through.
Then for the vice front (jaw) a little larger than the threaded spindle.
And finally the right size for tap to cut thread (depending on your threader and tap size).

Now cutting the thread with the tap, please notice I am a wee bit off center (shit)...
Not a big problem, just with a long spindle it became visible after.
So yes please laugh at me now, all beginning is hard, every new tool takes some practice, a woodworker is a person that did a lot of practice, best every day 8-10 hours, us boy scout wood workers have to accept our mistakes and call it charm. ;-)


Now I can cut holes for handles.
Using center jig.

Grease up that baby!
First a good soak of Japanese camellia oil and then bees wax.

We got a bench top workbench MaFe style.
I did it my way!
Notice how I hold it to the table with the end vice.
(Alternative is to use a clamp from under the table).

Get the picture?
Raised surface clamping right in front of you.
I can even sit on my bar stool and work comfortable in front now.

Where we want it.

Here you see the build up.
The front goes under the tabletop to secure a firm grip.
Here you also see why I drilled that hole in the side batten, so it would be lowered for clearance and beauty.
The long spindles makes it possible to clamp a drawer or other full size items.

So time for a tool for the tool… and testing the benchtop bench.
First mark up two pieces of wood.

Then score with a chisel for cutting, before sawing.

Transfer fingers.
Thinking of my friend Bas as I so often do when using the beautiful marking knife he send me.

And we got a finger joint…
Why MaFe?

Glue them up in a straight angle.
(You are there on the side my friend Jim – the beautiful awl on the table).

Once dry a little shaping and this is what we got.

Time to do some spinning.
Since I am no athlete I will do it on the lathe, while I sit comfortable on a chair…
A old chair leg found in the street becomes useful.

Tatatatatatatataaaaaaaaaaaaa we got a handle for the new benchtop bench.
(Guess you thought I had become a lazy bustard, using that screwdriver).

It’s all in the wood…

Drilling holes in the ends matching the thickness of the rod.

Glued in place with epoxy and a bamboo nail going through.
Now you see why I made the angle.

So I can set the wood straight…
What do you think of my new Italian pipe by the way, I simply love it.

Now back to work.

Ok I fast realize it needs more attention, as soon as I had sawn the fingers and needed to cut the waste I realized I needed hold for that also…
So marking up for a row of holes.

Careful MaFe.


Now I can use my Festool clamps and gear on it too.

Works super well.

But is it sexy…....
Not with all those nice tools all over.
It’s like a green Storm Trooper had landed in a Amish movie.

So we need to invent.
A wall plug and a wing nut.

A piece of pine.
Drawing a slight curve.
(Notice the metal dogs also).

Drilling a hole in the center.

Sawing the curve.


(This was not a mistake, the text are supposed to be the same).

Contact glue and leather patches.


That’s a more sexy hold fast in my universe.
(My shop is my universe, kind of the reversed Death star – the Life star).

A fine grip when chopping out the waste now, eve it’s a bit annoying to turn the wing nut each time…

Ok – use a Wedge!
Fantastic, this is fast and gives a firm grip, adjustment only needed when changing quite a bit up or down in size.
Love it.

Sexy and simple.

Gave et some extra holes, same system as the Festool, like this I can use those clamps too.

Like this.

But I need some more woody bench dogs.
I know I’m a wee bit too much, but it just makes me happy.
So cut some rod and some squares.

Drilling for the rods.


- and bamboo nails.

Now back to working on that secret project, I used already too much time playing – but at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. ;-)

Here the dogs.

Also added a little planning stop at the end, based on the Fibonacci numbers.

That’s it.
Back to work, Mathildes confirmation is in a week and a half now.

Thank you for following my little de tour.
Perhaps this can inspire others to fool around and at the same time give your body a good place to work.

best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

25 comments so far

View Bricofleur's profile


1481 posts in 4412 days

#1 posted 05-13-2014 08:08 PM

It looks great, Mads. And it’s full of nice features. Good job. Thanks for the detailed construction. Now I need one !



PS: Mathilde is a big girl now ! Best wishes to her. xx

-- Learn from yesterday, work today and enjoy success tomorrow. --

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 3089 days

#2 posted 05-13-2014 08:16 PM

Very sweet build, thanks for the sharing. A moxon bench-on-bench is on my perpetual to-do list.

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4553 days

#3 posted 05-13-2014 08:46 PM

Wonderful as usual Mads. A very useful and nice looking bench. I know what you mean about having a higher bench top. I often come in from the shop bent over. I am planning that my new bench (not built yet) will be much higher. Don’t forget to post Mathildes gift when it’s finished!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View lew's profile


13413 posts in 4974 days

#4 posted 05-13-2014 09:06 PM

Great photo journey, Mads!

I noticed in several pictures there is a small , pegged piece placed between the front, movable jaw and the rear fixed top. Is that to prevent racking and assure the jaws are parallel to the work piece?

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3757 days

#5 posted 05-13-2014 09:20 PM

That is fantastic Mads! I have those threaded rods on my bench, I need to wax them though because they are pretty hard to turn!

-- I never finish anyth

View Gibernak's profile


124 posts in 3065 days

#6 posted 05-13-2014 09:54 PM

looks great and very functional. I really like the homemade hold fast and bench dogs.

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 4206 days

#7 posted 05-13-2014 10:01 PM

Sweet setup and great documentation.
Thanks for sharing.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 4201 days

#8 posted 05-13-2014 10:37 PM

Great photo build. Now are you sitting as you chop? Was this better for your neck and back? Height of the new bench, I mean.

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5101 days

#9 posted 05-13-2014 10:43 PM

Ha, what fun.
I can see why you said “like a green Storm Trooper had landed in a Amish movie”. You used plywood and every power tool you got to make this sucker. But nice it is. It will be a joy to use.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Sodabowski's profile


2401 posts in 4052 days

#10 posted 05-13-2014 10:51 PM

Sweet! Now I need me one of those!
I just realize that your daughter is having her confirmation right when our niece is having her first communion ;)
Best wishes to both of you my friend :)

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View changeoffocus's profile


467 posts in 2836 days

#11 posted 05-13-2014 11:00 PM

Your attention to detail and documentation are to be admired. Your shop looks like a very comfortable place.
Thanks for another great posting.
Bob Current

View Don W's profile

Don W

20170 posts in 3786 days

#12 posted 05-13-2014 11:32 PM

Well done again.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 2768 days

#13 posted 05-13-2014 11:59 PM

You are a true craftsman mafe, nicely done.

View Wolfdaddy's profile


300 posts in 3053 days

#14 posted 05-14-2014 02:13 AM

Wow! This is really cool! Just like everything else you do. I especially love the holdfast.

-- "MOM! I think there's something under our house! I'm gonna need a jackhammer, a fish bowl, some air tanks, and maybe a few pipes."

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4153 days

#15 posted 05-14-2014 03:38 AM

Love the blog Mafe!

That wood threader is of a particular interest!

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

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